The Everglades National Park is facing some problems. About 300,000 19-feet-sized reptilian problems to be exact. Burmese Pythons have been terrorizing the Everglades, by decimating the small mammal population of the area.
The Burmese Python is native to tropic areas of Southern and Southeast Asia, as its name suggests. And despite the fact that it is one of the largest snakes in the entire world, it is very appreciated as a pet by snake aficionados. In fact, it is through the pet trade that it might have ended up in the Everglades.
It is suspected that it was during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, that a improvised breeding facility was destroyed and consequently, a large number of snakes and snake-eggs reached the environment of the Everglades National Park and thrived there, reaching the overwhelming number of 300,000 today.
Since they can feed on both mammals and birds, the possibilities were endless for the reptiles. And now, biologists explain how the pythons are responsible for the populations of small mammals reducing considerably. Furthermore, they are contributing to the already delicate problem of endangered species, such as the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and the wood stork.
In 2013, hunters were called to the aid of the Everglades National Park, but this did not turn out to be of much use. The 1,600 hunters who answered the Park’s call managed to kill a mere 68 snakes.
Other methods have been utilized, such as poisoned pray, traps and even specialized snaked designed to help identify hunter pythons, but with no tangible success.
A new study came to the aid of the Everglades that might help elaborate new plans to put a handle on the true Burmese Python outbreak. The US Geological Survey has released the most extensive study ever conducted on these snakes. The scientists have been tracking a total of 19 Burmese pythons for 5,119 days. They have caught the snakes, implanted them with tracking devices and then released them 10 feet away from where they had caught them.
The snakes were tracked using GPS and it has been revealed that they inhabit an area of about 22 square kilometers, or roughly 3 miles-wide-by-3-miles-long, inside the park.
Further information has been gathered regarding the differences between the behavior of the snakes in their natural habitat back in Asia and the behavior that they have adopted in the Everglades area. Since in Florida they do not have any natural predators, they are thriving. Moreover, scientists have figured out that nutrition and reproduction lay at the core of their general activities.
While in Asia, Burmese Pythons are considered solitary creatures, it seems that in the Everglades, they are engaging in group activities. When birds are at the height of their mating season, they attract egg-eating mammals to these rookeries. And since both birds and mammals are on the python’s menu, a large amount of snakes gather in these areas for what looks like a eating fest, since neither the birds or the mammals present stand a chance in front of the 19 feet snakes.
And after this comes mating season for the pythons, when even more individuals are attracted to these spots, thus creating and enormous nest of snakes.
It remains to be seen how the information provided by the study can help exactly, in order develop a plan that will decrease the number of these snakes. Burmese Pythons have been terrorizing the Everglades for the last thirty years and it is time to stop them, before the situation gets out of hand.
Image Source: geekinfinite.com